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Federal Way professional indoor skydiver continues reign as one of world’s best

This is Josh Ruiz-Velasco: A professional indoor skydiver who gets this reaction if people ask.

“They’re like what? There’s professionals at that?” Ruiz-Velasco said.

Yes, in fact there are. And Josh, a 15-time international gold medalist, makes it look way too easy at wind speeds approaching 150 miles an hour.

“A minute in there, when we’re doing our training, it’s sprinting,” he said. We come out drenched. You’re flying on all different axises, you’re carving your back, and doing layouts and you’re coming through your belly.”

The Federal Way native splits his time living between here and in Poland, where he trains with his teammate before traveling to competitions all over the world. This year, it’s France, then Spain, Japan, Norway, Australia and Bahrain.

“Traveling the world is always something I really wanted to do and little did I know I’d be able to compete and have everything paid for and see different cultures and different people. It’s the coolest thing in the world,” Ruiz-Velasco said.

Quite a progression for the Decatur High alum, just seven years removed from stepping into the wind tunnel at iFly Seattle for the very first time, while working as a waiter at a restaurant at SouthCenter Mall.

“He just constantly wanted in that wind tunnel to fly and progress and learn new skills and teach others and, it was relentless,” iFly Seattle GM Darren Dos Santos said.
Added Ruiz-Velasco: “It’s always a dream of mine to be a world champion or a world renowned athlete at something. And as soon as my first flight here, it was like This is something I want to do.”

But easier said than done - forcing Josh to make sacrifices along the way.

“He sold his car and bought a bicycle because he wanted to lose weight, so he rode his bike all the way from Tacoma to be able to get here to shed those extra pounds, so he could shred more in the wind tunnel,” Dos Santos said.

But it’s paid off, with a World Championship in Montreal last October, and a valuable skill set as an instructor at iFly and anywhere else he goes. As for when he’ll call it quits?

“I guess until I get bored of it,” he said. “But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”